Canada’s Start-up Visa: Safe & Attractive Path for International Investors

Why Canada, and Why a Start-Up Visa?

Many International Investors and Entrepreneurs around the world are looking at emigrating their own countries. They are in search of a country that offers them and their families a safe society, better economic conditions, and more opportunities for business, study, and work.

Canada is Among the Top Options Globally for Entrepreneurs.

Canada has one of the strongest Banking Systems and lowest Tax Rates globally. It ranks 6th Best Country for Business in the World. Because they generate jobs for Canadians and a positive overall economic impact, Canada welcomes Investors and Entrepreneurs, who can have controlling ownership of Canadian Companies.


Source: Government of Canada, “Invest Canada” report

What is Canada’s Start-up Visa Program, and who is it for?

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program (officially called the “Canada Start Up Class”) is an initiative by the Government of Canada.

The program is designed to offer Canadian Permanent Residence to qualified Immigrant Entrepreneurs that can provide innovation, can invest in starting a business in Canada, and can get support from a designated Canada-based investor before coming to Canada.

Start-up Visa

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program is aimed at Immigrant Entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to effectively build a business in Canada.

The Process

If you have innovative business ideas, you can present them to organizations designated by the Government of Canada to get their support. They will consider the innovative components of your idea, if it can create jobs for Canadians and Permanent Residents, and if your idea is globally competitive.

Canada’s Start-up Visa

Book a Start-Up Visa Immigration Consultation with one of our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants.

Once you have defined your Business Idea, book a Start-Up Visa Immigration Consultation with one of our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants.

We can help you from beginning to end of the process, and certainly with one of the critical steps within the Start-Up Visa Program: Getting a Letter of Support by one or more of the Designated Organizations defined by the Government of Canada for this Program (a Venture Capital Fund, an Angel Investor Group, a Business Incubator, or a combination of two or more of them).

Please beware of advice from “immigration consultants” that are not regulated or in good standing. Only a Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant in good standing with the ICCRC can offer consultancy services for applications to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

Verify Status with ICCRC: link to ICCRC site

Rui Jiang, RCIC # R530523

Dongkai Li, RCIC # R522600

How do We Help You?

Our Team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) will help you in every step of your application to the Start-Up Visa Program, including the following:

1. Guiding you through the procedure to apply for a Letter of Support from the Designated Organization(s).

2. Creating a business plan based on your input, background, and qualifications:

  • Explaining and presenting the market opportunity for the product or service.
  • Demonstrating early technology validation and/or traction with customers.
  • Demonstrating the viability of your business, from both a financial and market perspectives.
  • Ensuring that your business will operate in an innovative sector.

3. Presenting your business plan to the Designated Organization(s).

4. Adapting your Business Pitch as necessary for the type(s) of Designated Organization(s) and for each specific organization’s requirements.

5. Preparing you for an interview / presentation with the Designated Organization(s).

6. Obtaining the Letter of Support from the Designated Organization(s) after a successful interview / presentation, and ensuring they submit to IRCC Canada their Certificate(s) of Commitment.

7. Helping you to gather all necessary documents for a Start-Up Visa Application, including documentary proof that you meet Language Requirements and those necessary to your Proof of Funds.

8. Submitting your Start-Up Visa Application to the Government.

9. Once you qualify, preparing and submitting your Permanent Residence Application.

Processing time

The latest Processing Times for a Start-Up Visa Application can go from 12 to 16 months. This will vary over time and depending on your country of application.

Start-up Visa application

Who can apply?

To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must:

  • Have a business / business idea that qualifies (be a Qualifying Business),
  • Get a Letter of Support from a Designated Organization,
  • Meet the Language Requirements of the program, AND
  • Prove that you have sufficient Funds (Proof of Funds) to settle in Canada for at least one year.

Your Business to Canada

What is Qualifying business?

At different times of the process, a Qualifying Business must meet the following conditions:

  • At the time you get a Commitment from a Designated Organization:
    • Each applicant must hold 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time (up to 5 people can apply as owners), AND
    • The Applicants and the Designated Organization must jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation that are outstanding at that time
  • At the time you receive your Permanent Residence:
    • You must provide active and ongoing management of this business from within Canada,
    • An essential part of the operations of the business must take place in Canada, AND
    • The business must be incorporated in Canada

Accordingly, you as Applicant must have formed in Canada an entity for business and/or commercial purposes that has an ownership structure meeting -at a minimum- the percentages established above.

Business in Canada

For clarity, in order to have a Qualifying Business, the Applicant must meet the following criteria upon application, or intend to meet them upon receiving Permanent Residence:

1. Provide active and ongoing management of the business from within Canada,

2. An essential part of the business operations must be conducted in Canada, including but not limited to:

  • Physical location
  • Facilities
  • Equipment
  • Inventory
  • Warehousing
  • Management Information Systems
  • Staff

3. The business must be incorporated in Canada

What Amount of Funds is required to be Secured from the Designated Organization?

Venture Capital Funds: If you present your idea to a Venture Capital Fund, they must commit to invest a minimum of CAD $200,000.

Angel Investor Groups: If your idea is presented to an Angel Investor Group, one or more investors connected to it must commit to invest a minimum of CAD $75,000.

Business Incubators: If you present your idea to a Business Incubator, no specific amount of investment is required.

Once we help you obtain the Letter of Support, it will be included with your Permanent Residence application.


The Designated Organization that issued you a Letter of Support will send a Commitment Certificate directly to IRCC (the Government of Canada). The Certificate submitted to IRCC must meet all of the following conditions:

  • Be issued by 1 or more Designated Entities,
  • Be less than 6 months old on the date of application,
  • Be issued without the Designated Organization charging a fee to review and assess the business proposal or to assess the business,
  • Include a Term Sheet/Client Agreement,
  • Include details of the Amount of the Investment and who is investing,
  • Include details of the services to be provided to the Applicant by the Designated Organization,
  • Include details of any fees to be charged to the Applicant by the Designated Organization (or other costs/exchange of funds), and when will these fees be collected,
  • Include information on each Applicant (no more than 5 persons may be identified in a Commitment to a single Business Proposal),
  • Describe the relationship between the Applicant and the Investment Team, AND
  • Describe the business and the Applicant’s role in the business, including the applicant’s title and any tasks the applicant is expected to perform for the company, and identifying those considered essential to the business.

Build your Business while your Permanent Residence is Processed

You can start building your business while your application for Permanent Residence is being processed, applying for a Temporary Work Permit.

Permanent residence in Canada

Meet the Language Requirements

You must take a language test and include the results with your application. Specifically, you must meet the minimum Level 5 of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) in either English or French in all of these four areas:

  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Writing

This is equivalent to an IELTS (General Training) English score of no less than 5.0 in each of the areas above.

The ability to communicate and work in English, French or both languages will help your business succeed in Canada.

If You Need to Improve your English, We Can Help

With a Clearport Investor Membership, you get access to SRT, our English Assessment and Improvement tool, to determine where your English is at. But our SRT is more than just an English and Skills Assessment.

Our SRT-Success Readiness Tool will also tell you if you are ready to come to Canada, because it gives you the approximate score you would obtain in other English tests that are popular in the market, such as IELTS. And there is more! SRT identifies any gaps you may have, then gives you a Personalized Learning Plan to improve focusing only on those areas (with hundreds of free online lessons and activities). It also lets you test again to measure your progress.

In summary, SRT gives you precise Result Reports, a Learning Plan, a Certificate for each of the 6 areas tested, and lets you test again to gauge your progress. SRT gives you great value for money! Become a Clearport Investor Member to get SRT.

Bring enough money to settle

Your Application must include Proof of Funds. This means documentary evidence that you have enough funds available to support yourself and your dependants at least during the first year after you arrive in Canada. Borrowed funds (a loan, etc.) cannot be used as Proof of Funds. Documents such as Investment Statements, Bank Statements and others are acceptable.

The amount you need to demonstrate depends on the size of your family, as shown in the table below.

Number of
Family Members

Funds required (Canadian Dollars)

1 $12,960
2 $16,135
3 $19,836
4 $24,083
5 $27,315
6 $30,806
7 $34,299
For each additional
family member

Complete the Document Checklist

We will provide you with the latest version of the Government of Canada’s Document Checklist for the Start-Up Visa Program. We will also guide you in gathering all the supporting documents and necessary information (we will let you know when Certified English Translations are required).

Your Application must include all the forms, supporting documents, signatures, language test results, proof of funds, and proof of payment of the processing fees.

Document Check List

Your answers in every form and for every question must be complete and true. If you submit false information or left out important details:

  • your application could be refused,
  • you could be found inadmissible to Canada, AND
  • you could be barred for five years from applying to come to Canada for any reason.

Pay your Application Fees

In most cases, your fees will include:

  • Processing Fees for you and anyone included in your application,
  • The Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF), AND
  • The Biometrics Fee.

Biometrics Fee

A majority of Applicants will be required to submit Biometrics. If that is the case, you must pay a Biometrics Fee when you submit your Application. The Biometrics Fee covers the cost of collecting your fingerprints and your digital photo.

Biometrics Fee

After you pay the Biometrics Fee with a completed application, you will receive a Biometrics Letter confirming that you need to then go in person to an approved facility to have your Biometrics taken (you will likely need to book an appointment). You must show the Biometrics Letter at that facility when you give your Biometrics.

Third-party fees

Depending on your situation, you may need to pay third parties for:

  • Medical Exams,
  • Police Certificates, and
  • Language Testing

Submit your application

Each Foreign National included in the business as a partner must submit their own application.

To make sure you have a complete application, you must:

  • answer all questions;
  • sign your application and all forms;
  • pay your processing fees and attach a copy of the receipt to your application; and
  • include all the supporting documents.

We are Your Door to Canada!

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